Audrey The Cat: Now With More Hissing Action

Audrey, the cat who hates me, has actually been very tolerant this holiday season. We've gotten along swimmingly. In fact, I've been able to pet her nearly every day and twice she's come out from under the Christmas tree when I called her. I thought we were making real progress in our relationship. Until yesterday, that is. Now, seems like old times.

Luckily, I've been honing my mad ninja skillz to defeat her attempts at tearing my flesh from the bone. My goal is to remain unbitten.


It's been a long two weeks. Since I don't have family in the area and no kids, I've worked around the holidays every year, except for one, for the past twelve. I do like being in town, as L.A. empties out a bit and traffic improves. Plus, our weather is pretty good this time of year, even though I complain about how cold it is at night! (Come on...the 40's is cold!)

I am really happy for all of my friends travelling around to New Jersey, Hawaii, Germany, New Zealand, Boston, Chicago, Costa Rica, Canada, Florida, etc. I guess I'm just ready for everyone to get back. That way I can leave all of them in a few weeks to go to Utah, where I suspect it will be even colder. I'd better start looking for my hat and mittens!


All I Ever Wanted, All I Ever Needed

There was only one thing I really wanted for the holidays. I even had plans of how to obtain it, had I not received it as a gift. I feel greedy and kind of silly wanting a thing so badly. But I have obsessed for months...and now it is mine. And no, it has not solved all of my life problems, but it has brought me some happiness and isn't that important?


The tokidoki LeSportsac bag I've been drooling over! Apparently, after pointing it out in a store some months ago, E tried to go back and get it for my birthday. It was no longer there and he didn't know what it was called. Once I started obsessing over "tokidoki bags" (and driving him crazy), he picked one up on eBay. When we went to Japan L.A. to meet Hello Kitty, we checked out some of the bags they had in stock and I proceeded to say how much I disliked one of them...the very one he'd gotten. So, he resold it on eBay and got the one I'd described. What a guy.

No, I didn't get this only to be like Jenn. I mean come on, she has two! I lusted over this purse before I even knew she wanted it too. It's not even that fashionable as it is from the Fall Collection and they are now putting out the Winter one. I just like it. That's all.


For Mompé: A Photo And Haiku Memorial

Mompé, Golden Retriever

My creation

Golden girl Mompé
Such a sweet and loving dog
So glad I knew her

Mompé liked to clown
Thinking she was a lap dog
In spite of her size

A life way too short
Her furry face will be missed
She brought so much joy

Mompé was my sister-in-law's dog. She lives in the Northeast and I was lucky to stay with her a few years ago while attending a conference. Mompers and I really bonded during that time. I'm just sorry I wasn't able to spend more time with her. She really was a sweetheart.


The Night Before Christmas

We practiced some of our Christmas Eve traditions yesterday. No trip to Solvang, but that was a choice. I had to work on Saturday, which made the weekend a bit shorter. I spent the afternoon making cookies and then we had dinner at an Asian buffet. We took the cookies, as well as some cocktail weenies, over to our neighbors' annual gathering. There was lots of food, lots of alchohol, and much laughter. Their Christmas Eve party centers around one of the strangest, yet most fun, holiday traditions we have...The Magical Christmas Caroling Truck.

Imagine a semi truck, completely decked out with Christmas lights, booming holiday songs. There are people on the truck singing and others walking with the caravan. There's a group of girls who dance behind and Santa Claus himself follows in a train. It just wouldn't feel like Christmas without it. My neighbor, Erik, took some video this year, so check it out. It really is pretty cool to have this come around every December 24th.

I hope Santa was good to you this year!


Merry Holidays!

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas or Happy Whatever. This old scrooge here is getting a bit of last minute holiday spirit. I don't know...maybe it's that I have two whole days in a row off. It could be the cold air and the fire we've been building every night. Or possibly the cookie dough I just made up in anticipation of baking for a Christmas Eve party.

I even got inspired to put up a tree. It's not my small tree that I sometimes like to fill with ornaments from my childhood. It's a tiny centerpiece I acquired at a party a few years ago. It's predecorated, so I just strung some lights and there you go. Christmas cheer.


I intended to send out some e-cards, but it doesn't look like I'll get around to that. Thank you to those of you who have sent cards, cookies, gifts. I think I have thanked you individually and if not, I definitely will.


So, enjoy the next few days with your friends and family. I enjoy being in town this time of year as the city kind of empties out and slows down.


Mother Approved

I guess even as we get older, it's cool to please our parents. I was really excited to get a card and ribbon in the mail yesterday from my Mom to congratulate me on winning an award for "Best Cookies" with her recipe.

A Nod From Mom

How cool is that?


Here's MY Christmas Gift To You

The now most-blogged-about SNL skit in a long time...uncensored:


Things You May Or May Not Know

Nanette tagged me with this meme, so here goes!

5 Things You Don't Know About Me*

1. I have lived in L.A. longer than anywhere else in my life.**
  • I think that's why I'm often stumped by "where are you from?" It should be an easy one, but my mouth drops open and I freeze, not knowing what to say. I don't really have roots anywhere, but here. I never even lived in the state where I was born (Maryland) and no, I don't consider the state where my parents are to be home. No way, no how, no thank you. I have lived in Florida, but it never felt like home. So from now on, when asked, I'll just say, "My Mama."
2. I was a student cook in one of my college's dining halls.
  • I know this is a tough one to believe, considering all of my belly-aching about cooking. It's true though. I needed an on-campus job and my roommate was already a student cook, the most prestigious dining hall position you could have. I had an in. This may be what actually turned me off from cooking much at home. I could make pasta for 400 people, but how in the world do you do it for just two? It was actually fun a lot of the times and we got to use big knives. The worst things were chopping onions, steaming mushrooms (oh, the smell...gag!), and working the fryer. I ended up getting banned from the fryer because I'm so short I would end up burning my arms all the time.
3. Eyeballs freak me out.
  • It's a weird thing. I love studying and learning about the human body. One of the best experiences I've had was my Gross Anatomy class. Blood and guts don't necessarily disgust me (unless they really smell) and I'm fascinated by medical oddities, but eyeballs...yikes! I can't use eye drops and will only wear glasses once the time comes. I can not imagine putting in a contact and have gagged watching others do it. I avoid getting my vision checked because they just get too close. And there's that puff of air.
4. I had the lead role in my kindergarden play.
  • I was "Spring" and had to go around and talk to various animals and flowers. I wore a friend's flower girl dress and had quite a bit of dialogue to memorize. I wore black patent leather shoes, but I love the photo my Mom has in one of her albums from dress rehearsal. I'm wearing the fancy dress and Flintstone tennis shoes. It was, by the way, the beginning and end of my acting career!
5. I am incredibly clumsy.
  • Okay, Ren, Dianna, Mom, E-- you all definitely already know this about me. I have fallen up stairs. I have smashed my face on a door jamb. I have tripped over one of my dogs and fallen really, really hard. I could go on and on, but I won't. The funny thing is that I actually make a living teaching kids how to walk again. Most of them do pass and I haven't let many of them fall.
*I've done a lot of lists and question answering on this blog. This may be repetitive, but I'll assume that some of you reading have not read and/or retained all of what you may have read here before.

**A little over 12 years.

Audrey And Me

So far so good with Audrey The Cat. No "love bites" and no hissing. I've even been able to pet her. I haven't resorted to treats...well, I tried, but she won't take treats from me. I just leave them on her food. She's definitely a little grumpy and misses her humans, but I think we're going to have a swell time together. As long as I don't take too many flash photos of her.

Flash That In My Face One More Time And I WILL Bite You!
"Flash that in my face one more time, be-otch, and you will get bitten!"

That's Better...No Annoying Flash
"That's better. I'll tolerate you and your camera sans flash."


It's Certainly The BUSIEST Time Of The Year

Most wonderful also? Eh, I don't know. There are many great things that do happen in December, but I do find it to be pretty stressful too. And with my high blood pressure, that's not so good.

So far, I've been to 5 holiday parties and have at least 2 more to attend (possibly 3). I've blown off 2. There's only so much one person can do. I've made some headway on shopping, which is a bit scaled back this year, but yeah, I'll probably be frantically doing some last minute, Christmas Eve stuff. I always am. I'm still in the process of getting things for Hannukah.

Tonight, I start feeding, and attempting to bond with, Ren's cat. Audrey and I have a love-hate relationship. I love her, she hates me. I'm actually looking forward to a bit of a cat fix, as I rarely get one with E's allergies. Also, I have a refuge for storing and wrapping gifts. Or for just taking an uninterrupted nap. Imagine the possibilities.

Even though I will be working my regular schedule for the next two weeks (including this Saturday), luckily almost everyone else is off and I can get to work pretty quickly. It's like a Christmas miracle. Or something.


It's Settled...I'm Officially Nutters

Not only did I go to Costco on a Sunday, but I went today, when it is only one week until Christmas Eve. I must truly be losing it.


When Did I Become So Damn Girly?

Jodi Meets Hello Kitty


I find this photo very amusing. Not only am I wearing a pink shirt and a jacket with pink stripes down the sleeves, but I'm posing with Hello Kitty. I don't really think of myself as being very "girly," but I think I'd have a hard time convincing anyone of that in this instance.

E and I went to the JapanL.A. party featuring the big cat-with-no-mouth herself, as I previously mentioned. I'd been looking forward to going in the shop, which is pretty small, but filled with an array of glorious Japanese pop culture goodies.

There were snacks, drinks, and good cheer while folks waited around for Hello Kitty to make her appearance. Once she arrived, I was a bit stunned by the size of the costume. It's pretty tall. I was really taken with the shoes, for some odd reason. That girly thing again?

Hello Kitty

I took some photos and giggled quite a bit. I was really amused by the number of males who were having a great time getting their picture taken with Miss Kitty. I did purchase a few cute little things, for a grand total of less than $5. I'm sure I will spend more there in the future.

Luckily, the store did not have the tokidoki LeSportsac bag that I want. Even at 30% off, I'd have a hard time justifying it right now.

Footnote: I actually do have a history of posing with cute costumed characters, such as Hamtaro and Snoopy.


One of the perks of living in a city like Los Angeles is that you have a lot of opportunities to meet celebrities you may admire. So, tonight I'm going to take advantage and head over to Japan L.A.'s Christmas Party to meet Hello Kitty! Why not? It sounds silly, fun, and even a bit festive.


I'm looking forward to checking out the JapanL.A. shop, which is something I've been meaning to do. Anyone else in?


It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...

...Autumn! Yeah, yeah, there are Christmas lights galore and all of those inflatable snow globes in people's yards, but during the day, it all of a sudden looks like Fall. Maybe I have a bad memory, but I don't recall the trees being so glorious in December last year or even prior to that. It really struck me yesterday, as I was driving. I went around the block to snap the following photo, somewhere in Van Nuys, I believe.


Gorgeous, no? Of course there are still a lot of green trees. I think maybe sometimes the leaves actually fall off before they have a chance to change color. Then again, I may just be delusional. The next photo is of a tree in Burbank, very near to where I live, that I took this afternoon.


My blossoming pear tree, in front of my house, is even turning.


You Can Never Really Have Too Many Hamster T-shirts

Yesterday was quite eventful, for a Sunday. I got up early to bake cookies, two things I normally don't do. Not only did I win a prize for said cookies at a party, which you can read about here and here, but I finally got around to exchanging beleated birthday gifts with Ren. I love my gifts, which include:


We've been looking for these for quite sometime. I have a bottle of Anisette (also from Ren) that we've been waiting to drink from little chocolate cups.


An "Everybody Loves Hamster" t-shirt! This is the design Ren created for one of the buttons we sold at Comic Con. She sort of apologized, saying she'd made it before I got the Swazzle shirt. I then went on to exclaim that, "You can never really have too many hamster t-shirts!" (which is true). Ren and her husband both laughed. I think they knew I'd say that.

Okay, now the pièce de résistance:


An Ami racer tote bag!!! Ren is not happy with the color and is still working on this, but I love it! As you most likely know, my hamster Ami is a champion racer. I think it's the helmet that really does it for me. I love it!

Coming soon: Even more hamster gift goodness!


The Best Made Plans

I know, I know...what happens in Vegas...yeah, whatever. So, E and I drove to Las Vegas this past Thursday morning to meet up with my parents. My step-dad gave my Mom the trip for her birthday last month. We were all excited to see each other, as it had been way too long (over two years for me). As soon as I'd found out they were coming to Sin City, I promised my Mom that I'd take her to the Elvis-A-Rama museum. I've been feeling a twinge of guilt ever since going there a few years ago with my mother-in-law, knowing how much my Mom loves The King.

We arrived, checked in to our hotel, and met up with the 'rents. Everyone got in my car and off we set. Now, this cheesy little place is off The Strip and E remembered what road it was on, which was different that what one of the hotel maps showed. So, we first searched for and found the wrong road. As anyone who has been to Vegas knows, it is truly The City of Perpetual Construction. It's a mess right now. And the traffic...well, I'll take what I deal with in L.A. any day over that. It's bad. Anyway, we drove and turned around several times and eventually pulled over to call. The number was disconnected, which was not a good sign.

So, we carried on and eventually found Elvis-A-Rama...boarded up with a big CLOSED sign. It turns out that is has been gone since my birthday. It was very disappointing, but we were all able to laugh about it and remark on our tour of ugly, industrial Las Vegas. It's good to see what else is there besides all of the glitter and lights.

Since my Mom had only visited the city two other times, we decided to look around some of the hotels she had never seen. We visited the Wynn, which is very posh. As we kind of wanted to do something "touristy," we decided to go to Madame Tussauds, knowing we'd at least get to see a wax figure or two of Elvis. We had a good time and took several silly photos. Afterwards, we went to the Bellagio to see the garden, which is decorated beautifully for the holidays. I even appreciated it.

There was one more glitch in our day. I was getting very, very hungry and we had settled on getting some dinner at Mandalay Bay. Something felt off when we walked in from the parking garage and I noticed immediately that the flame wall outside of Rum Jungle was "out." To make a long story short, there was a gas line problem along Las Vegas Boulevard and eateries were either closed or serving cold food only. We opted to go off The Strip to eat and it was a good thing.

After dinner we took my Mom to Fremont Street so she could see new "old" Vegas. The light show we saw was a trippy, new-agey one, a little bizarre, but enjoyable nonetheless. We were all exhausted and headed back to crash. I had to work yesterday, so we left after having lunch with my folks on Friday. Even if our time together was brief, it was good, and we had a lot to laugh about. We all vowed to not let so much time pass before seeing each other again.


My Redneck Past Is Nipping At My Heels

Visting with my Mom for a day in Vegas, and seeing a sign for an upcoming Jeff Foxworthy show, made me ponder my youth and exclaim:

You Might Be A Redneck If:
  • Your parents made homemade sauerkraut in a giant garbage can on the front porch.
  • Your mother butchered a deer by herself on the same front porch.
  • You were going to be called "Jim Bob" if you'd been born a boy.
All of the above are true. And my Step-Dad made sure to remind us that all of these things happened before he was around.


Happy Belated To Me!

It's really fun to come home from work and find that a belated birthday present has arrived in the mail! A couple of my buddies from Swazzle sent me a t-shirt with Tinker, the hamster-in-a-ball puppet character that was modeled after my own adorable hammy Ami.


Now I don't feel so bad that I'm so late giving Ren hers. It's not as late. Yet.



Occasionally on Mondays I like to write about a concert I've attended in the past. The timing is perfect to talk about last week's Barenaked Ladies show, especially while it is still fresh in my mind. I have been thinking a lot about this post and it's going to sort of be a review of how I discovered and came to love this band so much.

BNL Are Me

E and I had a pair of awesome seats for the BNL B.L.A.M. Tour show last Wednesday at the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk. When I initially purchased my tickets, I was a little disappointed that they were on "Steve's side" of the stage, as I generally prefer to be closer to "Ed's side." It ended up working out for the best though as I saw a lot of Steve's back as he turned to sing with Ed. You can check out my photos here.

Jim, Steve, and Ed

I didn't write down the set list, but do remember that they opened with "Wind It Up" from their latest release. I was very happy with the set list. I think it showcased a good variety of the old, the new, and the live show staples. It was a nice surprise to hear "Grade 9," which I wasn't expecting!

Peanuts Dance

While BNL showcased their brilliant musical abilities, they were also obviously having FUN. They seemed relaxed and smiled and laughed a lot. Naturally, there were some goofy antics, including a choreographed dance/fight routine to "Angry People." You can hear about the genesis of that, as well as the band's name, in an interview that Steve Page, Ed Robertson, and Kevin Hearn did on NPR's Weekend Edition this past Saturday. I actually woke up to them talking on my clock radio alarm!

BNL's Best Boy Band Impression

Nanette referred to me as the biggest BNL fan she knows. It's true, I'm a semi-longtime fan and really enjoy this group. I didn't have the fortune of going to their early shows, where you could buy The Yellow Tape, like Cory from Boing Boing did. However, I have seen them over 20 times in all kinds of venues from stadiums to bookstores. I have met the guys several times either backstage, just hanging out after a show, or at signings. I did not ever see Andy Creeggan perform with Barenaked Ladies, as he'd recently left and they were trying out this new guy Kevin Hearn in the first shows I saw. I guess it all worked out. ;-)

Tyler Stewart and Kevin Hearn

It was 11 years ago, to the day, I first saw Barenaked Ladies perform at what was then simply referred to as "Universal Amphitheatre," as part of a holiday benefit show for an awesome radio station that no longer exists. 101.9 KSCA, which is now a Spanish language station, broadcast the Adult Album Alternative format. It's thanks to them that I discovered BNL*, as well as Ben Folds Five** and other artists who did not receive airplay otherwise. Tears For Fears (the version without Kurt Smith) headlined the concert, which also included Ben Folds Five and Suzanne Vega. I had only listened a bit to BNL's second album Maybe You Should Drive prior to the show, but even after an abbreviated set, I was hooked.


The night following the event at Universal, Ben Folds Five, BNL, and The Rembrandts did a show at the Hard Rock Cafe (yes, the restaurant, not a concert venue) in Costa Mesa. Admission price was a new, unwrapped toy. Both Ben Folds Five and Barenaked Ladies got to do much more substantial sets than the previous night. We chatted with the three guys who were BFF after they played and got them to sign our cd. Not really being interested in The Rembrandts, we decided to leave after BNL. We were leaving the parking lot and noticed this van that the guys were getting into. I yelled "Ed!" and he came over to our car and signed our cd!


I hope Barenaked Ladies are around for a long time so I have many more opportunities to see such great entertainers!

*E thought I was a neglectful historian in that I didn't give him the credit he deserved, as it was actually he who first heard Barenaked Ladies (along with another favorite Moxy Fruvous) on the now defunct syndicated show Todd Rundgren's The Difference, which KSCA aired on Sunday nights. He picked up Moxy's Bargainville and BNL's Maybe You Should Drive (pictured above). I listened to both and thought they were "okay," but months later pulled out the albums and really get into both bands.

**Oh, and for the record, E also heard Ben Folds Five first too.


Dorks In Love

We attended our first Dorkbot SoCal event yesterday evening. I enjoyed what I could understand, but E was definitely in his element. He ran into a couple of people he'd met elsewhere and even talked to them about being involved in a 3D presentation. All in all it was a good time, at a cool venue, The Machine Project. And even though I'm a child of the 80's, but missed out on the whole loving unicorns thing, I was impressed by their unicorn that you peek at through a hole in the floor.

After geeking out, we grabbed a meal and perused the movie listings. I won't go into details, but we were feeling incredibly indecisive in general, both about dinner and what film to see. After much hemming and hawing, we ended up deciding to see The Fountain, which we'd been anticipating for a year and a half. We saw the first five minutes, and some additional footage, at Comic Con in 2005. And then the movie never came out. Because of some recent negative buzz and also due to the fact that I was tired and unsure if I could follow it, I was a bit reluctant to see it. In the end, I think we made the right choice. I found it to be a beautiful film and while yes, metaphysical and philosophical, not too difficult to understand. It's a love story. A beautiful love story portrayed by very talented actors. It's no secret that I'm a fan of Hugh Jackman, but I was even more impressed by him and the range of emotions he expressed in this tale.


It's December Already? When Did That Happen?

Tonight was the annual Toluca Lake Holiday Open House. This event has become a tradition that sort of kicks off the holiday season for us. For the past several years, Rusty has gone along with us, wearing his Santa Paws costume. He gets a lot of attention, and from time to time even meets a celebrity. We took the obligatory photo with the "real" Santa, who must have had an inicident with some other dog, because he insisted that I get in the picture. Thank goodness I washed my hair today.


The jury is still out on whether I'm putting up my little tree this year. We'll see. I guess I really will have to get rid of the pumpkins first.


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